I have been working with lymphedema patients for over a dozen years now. One of the questions I run into all the time is where to find more information and support for lymphedema. Through my research and training, I have begun to gather together some of these resources for you.
Let’s start out the New Year with some new knowledge and resources! We have just added a new page to our website, Lymphedema Resources. At The Compression Closet, we want our website to be more than just a place to purchase good quality compression garments for lymphedema. We want this to be a place to go to for information, resources and the latest in research about the lymphedema condition. Continue reading →
My new year’s resolution is to make self-care a higher priority. Working with lymphedema patients, I’ve seen time and again how self-care improves the quality of one’s life. I have never been very good at self-care. I’m good at taking care of everyone else. Being a caregiver is part of who I am, and I doubt that will ever change. However, I would like to change my willingness and ability to care for myself to improve my life’s quality. My customers have helped me come to this realization – self-care is self-love! Continue reading →
Rita ended up in the hospital again, this time with sepsis. She had been here before due to infections and wounds caused by her legs that continually swelled. Time and time again, she had sought medical help but to no or little avail. After the hospital stay came the nursing home. Then finally home again with a physical therapist to help her regain some of the ground she had lost, spending so much time immobile.
This was a new therapist, which disappointed Rita. She liked her last home health therapist a great deal. However, she had little say as her old therapist had left the organization. Finding a good therapist can be challenging at times. Now she says that her new therapist, Monica, was a God send. She was the first person in nearly 17 years who recognized and properly diagnosed her condition, lymphedema.Continue reading →
“I fought breast cancer; I’m a fighter! I am cancer free, so what is this lymphedema after breast cancer business? Why was I never told that I could end up with a chronic disease as a complication of my cancer treatments? This lymphedema sucks!” While working in a durable medical supply store that catered to breast cancer patients seeking bras and prostheses, this or a similar sentiment was often heard.
Lymphedema does suck, yet there are ways of reducing your risk of lymphedema after breast cancer. It was heartbreaking and frustrating to hear these women’s sentiments. Going through cancer treatment and receiving a lymphedema diagnosis can be devastating. But were they told and didn’t remember? Had they never been told, and their doctors just hoped for the best? Were their doctors unaware, or did they not want to deal with it?
Dr. Marisa Weiss, chief medical officer of breastcancer.org, says, “I can say from experience that the time right after diagnosis, when you are considering options and planning treatment, is a blur. Feeling anxious and overwhelmed makes it hard to listen, understand, and decide. So even if lymphedema gets mentioned during this time, you may not remember it. Or it may not come up because the focus is on getting you well. So if lymphedema does develop later on, it can feel like yet another insult to the body, one that many women weren’t fully prepared for. The good news is that women can learn to manage it and lead everyday lives. ” Continue reading →
Sometimes it can be a real challenge to find a lymphedema therapist, and possibly even harder to find a good one. Fortunately, there are resources out there to help you in your pursuit to find a therapist. But what qualifies a medical professional to treat lymphedema? When you find a qualified professional to treat lymphedema, how do you know if you’ve found a good one? What should you be looking for? Continue reading →
PLEASE, wash your compression stockings! I have heard several stories of people not wanting to wash their compression stockings for fear that the garments will wear out faster. The opposite is true. Washing your compression stockings daily maximizes therapeutic effectiveness and prolongs the life of the stocking. This is because the oils and dirt in the skin cause the compression in the stocking to break down faster and be less effective.
I recommend hand washing your compression stockings in warm water with mild soap. Using soap specifically designed for compression stockings can prolong their effectiveness. Ensure you rinse all soap residue from the socks, then wrap your compression stockings in a clean towel and pat as much of the water out of them as possible. Lay flat to dry. Roll in a clean towel to get excess water out to dry faster. You may also want to put a fan on them to help speed up the process.
Some manufacturers do say that their stockings can be machine washed and dried. Treat your compression stockings like you would fine lingerie if you decide to go this route. Use the lowest permanent press settings and a garment bag. If you also choose the dryer, use the lowest possible temperature setting. Never use bleach, chlorine, fabric softeners, Woolite, or other laundry additives, for these can damage the compression in the garment. Continue reading →
Did you know there are no governmental guidelines for gradient compression stockings? Are you wearing quality gradient compression stockings? Anyone can put the word “compression” on a pair of socks? It’s essential to buy your compression stockings from a reputable company and brand. Purchasing the wrong compression garments can create more problems than they ever solve, especially when dealing with lymphedema. Continue reading →
Will my insurance company cover my compression garments for lymphedema? Will Medicare cover my compression garments? Sometimes yes, but more often, they will not. If they do pay, the real question is, how much will they pay? It’s all part of the medical insurance game. The other day I needed to purchase a prescription drug. I was shocked when they told me the price was over $600. When I explained to them I did not have insurance to cover this drug, they said, “Oh, then we can give you a discount; it will now be only $60.” How can that be? How can a drug price drop that drastically? Continue reading →
I heard the other day that dealing with a chronic illness, like lymphedema, is similar to dealing with a significant loss. Whether you are a therapist or a person dealing with lymphedema, it’s essential to recognize the emotional toll this disease can take. It is a loss! The loss of a way of life that was known and now has to be adjusted and adapted to deal with this chronic disease. Recognizing the stages of grief can better help you deal with a chronic illness like lymphedema and the emotional toll it takes. Continue reading →
Are you wearing your lymphedema compression garments? I hope so, even if no one’s watching! Even if you are stuck in the house for days and days during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused many states to adopt shelter-in-place mandates. We all can get lazy not going out of the house for days. We may stay in our pj’s all day, not wear makeup or style our hair. However, we should not become lazy about our compression garments and the care of our lymphedema. We all want to stay away from the hospital now, so we don’t need any flare-ups of Cellulitis or open wounds. Continue reading →